The Mobility Package I: Act 2
Five Transport Ministers asked for initiation of a new dialogue on this legislationMaria Koleva , Brussels
Discussions at the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism on Wednesday, the first sitting for the new legislative term, showed clearly that the battle on Mobility Package I would be even fiercer in the current political cycle. This 'hot potato' was transferred to the new parliament for Act 2 as in the next to the last plenary session for the previous EP term, in April, MEPs adopted at first reading all three reports of the very divisive Mobility Package I.
Even then, lawmakers from the peripheral countries, all from Central and Eastern Europe, whose road haulage sector would be hit hardest by such controversial legislation, signalled a number of procedural breaches during the vote, but their objections were not taken into account.
The package consists of enforcement requirements and specific rules for posting drivers in the road transport sector - daily and weekly driving times, minimum breaks and rest periods, positioning by means of tachographs and adapting to development in the road transport sector concerning the cabotage.
The topic was highlighted during the presentation of the priorities of the Finnish Presidency of the Council to the TRAN Committee by Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin. At a session led by the committee chairwoman, Karima Delli (Greens, France), Minister Marin pointed out that the Presidency “stands ready to start negotiations on the social and market pillar of the Mobility Package I, when you agree on a mandate to negotiate”. She also said that her country seeks to promote ambitious emission reduction targets in all modes of transport.
Bulgarian EPP MEP Andrey Novakov expressed hope that the Finnish Presidency will take all EU Member States on board and the Mobility Package “will finally stop dividing us into centre and periphery”. Maria Grapini, Romanian lawmaker from S&D, recalled that the introduced voting 'en bloc' of the amendments, that allowed the adoption of the texts, was a violation of the procedural rules of the House. She also warned that the Presidency is likely not to fulfil its priority on decreasing emissions if trucks are brought back empty across Europe going to their country of establishment every fourth week, and she touched upon some key safety issues as well.
On the same day, transport ministers from Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland came to the EP in Brussels for a series of important meetings. They discussed the positions of the like-minded Member States on the Mobility Package I with the leaders and coordinators of the political groups of the European Conservatives and Reformists, Renew Europe and the Identity and Democracy Group, with the TRAN chair, Delli, and with Minister Marin from the Council Presidency.
According to the five ministers, it is necessary to initiate a new dialogue in which all MEPs of like-minded Member States must be actively involved, regardless their political family. Romania will also join the group.
Rossen Jeliazkov, Bulgaria's transport minister, told media in Brussels that for the group of like-minded countries is very important at this stage, when the EU institutions are preparing for the new political cycle, to express their consolidated position with regard to each of the dossiers.
Ministers insisted that the return of the vehicle, respectively the driver, and the ban on sleeping in the cabin should be scrapped.
The Bulgarian minister referred to a recent study, commissioned by the EU executive, which showed that 400,000 safe parking spaces should be built in Europe to allow the weekly rest for drivers. Imagine what a huge investment it is, given that the vehicles are designed to offer this opportunity, he said, adding that building such assets for many billions of euros in Europe, for only the next one or two decades, is not the best-considered policy. On the other hand, the issue of bilateral transport, which refers to the Posting Directive in connection with the model introduced by the Austrian Presidency, and cross-trade operations between the bilateral transports, in his opinion, needs to be thoroughly revised. It serves the economies of the countries with a strong export, and it does not serve the economies of countries in the periphery of Europe, he asserted.